Empire State Building announces winners of 2016 Valentine’s Day Wedding contest


NEW YORK, NY – Empire State Realty Trust, Inc announced today the 10 lucky couples who have been selected as winners of the Empire State Building (ESB) Valentine’s Day Weddings contest.

Throughout its storied history, ESB has played a special role in love stories around the world. Well known as the setting for iconic silver screen romances such as Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember, this Valentine’s Day, ESB will honor 10 couples and their love stories with a whirlwind day of weddings at the most famous building in the world. This annual occasion is the only day of the year couples can marry at the site USA Today readers chose as America’s “Best Place to Propose.”

“The Empire State Building is thrilled to be part of such an unforgettable day for the lucky couples, as we have been for the past 22 years,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, Director of the Empire State Building Observatory and ceremony officiant. “Their stories of love and commitment make this year’s Valentine’s Day weddings at the Empire State Building one of our most special.”

Aruba Tourism Authority, a returning partner, will surprise one lucky couple with an all-expenses paid honeymoon. The randomly selected pair will enjoy a romantic five-night/six-day stay at the adults-only Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort to take in the sunshine, ocean and all that the “One Happy Island” has to offer.

Following their ceremonies, couples can enjoy the famous open-air views of New York City for photos with their guests before they are treated to an exclusive VIP breakfast at STATE Grill and Bar, located on the ground floor of the building.

The couples will have their individual ceremonies on the famed 86th floor Observatory throughout the day on Valentine’s Day as follows:

• 8:00am – Monique and Mike Baratta (Toms River, NJ) – After a proposal on ESB’s 86th floor Observatory, Monique and Mike’s 2006 ESB wedding almost didn’t happen due to Mother Nature’s plans for snow. Although some family couldn’t make it, Good Morning America captured the joyful event for the whole nation to see. For their tenth anniversary, the couple is thrilled to be renewing their vows in front of their children, whose favorite “movie” is seeing their parents marry on live TV.

• 8:15am – Vijay Lalwani and Hector Jerome Bondoc (New York, NY) – Returning to the spot of their very first date, Vijay and Hector are excited to be exchanging vows in the presence of their dog, Koki, who is known by his Instagram-famous moniker, @KokiStateofMind. Koki snaps pictures nightly in front of ESB for his 23K followers and is looking forward to witnessing his loving dads renew their vows on top of his favorite landmark.

• 8:30am – Jennifer Nodonly and Warren Sanders (Baltimore, MD) – Jennifer and Warren became engaged after the tragic passing of Jennifer’s father. Through the hardship, their relationship grew and they were selected to be a part of ESB’s weddings in 2015. As traveling with their newborn was not possible at the time, the couple is ecstatic to be bringing their daughter to New York City for the first time to realize their dream of marrying in the city and atop the building they love.

• 8:45am – Katherine Baglivi and Joshua Coyle (West New York, NJ) – Katherine and Joshua’s Memorial Day date quickly became more than just a summer romance. From that first Fourth of July watching ESB lit as a backdrop to the fireworks that symbolized their relationship, the iconic NYC landmark has been a constant sight for these lovebirds living just over the Hudson River.

• 9:00am – Shanta Mali and Sean Smith (New York, NY) – Shanta and Shali will be returning to a place that has shaped their lives. After meeting on ESB’s 24th floor, the couple dated but ultimately lost touch. Ten years later, they’ve found each other again and will make it official in the place where it all began.

• 9:15am – Betsy Narvaez and Carol Cabello (Jackson Heights, NY) – After a memorable first date on Betsy’s birthday, it became clear their summer romance was on the path to so much more. From their subway platform in Queens, they can see ESB’s spire, a symbol of the city where their life together began.

• 9:30am – Ying Wang and Jinhan Bai (China) – After falling in love their sophomore year of high school, Ying and Jinhan were separated when college called. On one visit to New York City, the couple tried to make time to visit the Empire State Building, but luck wasn’t on their side and Ying was only able to take a photo of the lobby. Now, with the chance to renew their vows on the 86th floor, Ying and Jinhan will share this wonderful experience and the rest of their lives together.

• 9:45am – Sadeema Taylor and Kearney Bapteus (Port Reading, NJ) – As is often the case, life simply got in the way of these young lovebirds. After overcoming hardships both together and apart, Sadeema and Kearney, alongside their daughters, are finally achieving their dream of tying the knot. This will be the first visit to ESB for everyone in the family and surely one they’ll never forget.

• 11:30am – Stacey Price and Andrew Frye (Arlington, VA) – After a trip to the top of ESB at age 22, Stacey fully realized how much there was to see beyond her small town. This trip spurred her into a big move and an even bigger love. Together with her die-hard Rangers fan fiancé, Stacey will add another day at ESB to the list of days that changed her life.

• 11:45am – Christina and Carl Wahrmund (San Antonio, TX) – Christina and Carl married almost 40 years ago with only a judge present. After nearly 4 decades of “smiles, laughs, tears and tragedies,” they will renew their vows with the family that has witnessed the strength and joy of their relationship grow year after year.